When J.M. Roberts’s monumental History of the World was first published more than twenty years ago, it was immediately hailed as a “stupendous achievement.” “Unbelievably accurate in its facts and almost incontestable in its judgments,” acclaimed A.J.P. Taylor, pronouncing Roberts’s work the “unrivaled World History for our day.” The book has indeed gone on to become the premier single-volume history of our time, with more than a quarter million copies sold around the world.
Now, in an equally outstanding performance, J.M. Roberts has turned to the history of Europe. Beginning with its Paleolithic origins and the early civilizations of the Aegean, Roberts traces the development of the European identity over the course of thousands of years, ranging across empires and religions, economics, science, and the arts. Antiquity, the age of Christendom, the Middle Ages, early modern history, and the old European order all are surveyed in turn, with particular emphasis given to the turbulent twentieth century.
How is it that the small continent of Europe, with its rich multiplicity of cultures and traditions, has managed to exert so profound an influence on the rest of the world? Roberts’s sweeping and entertaining history notes the paradoxical effect, for good and ill, on everything touched by “western values” whose origins lie in Europe.